The marquee matchup of the NBA’s opening night will take place between two Western Conference powers, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California on Tuesday (10.30pm ET on TNT).
All eyes will be on Warriors’ superstar Kevin Durant (pictured), who pulled off the coup of the offseason by leaving his own contending Oklahoma City Thunder for the team who set the single-season wins record in 2015-16. He fitted in seamlessly with Golden State’s offense during the preseason, but we’ll see if he can keep it up when the games start to mean something.
The Spurs will be playing their first regular season game since Tim Duncan’s retirement. Although Duncan was a shell of himself during his final season in 2015-16, his leadership on and off the floor was key to the team’s cohesion.
This preview will focus on a few key questions that will determine the outcome of the game and then provide some betting predictions advice and picks.
How Will the Spurs’ Big Men Fare Against the Warriors’ Speed?
The NBA is moving to small ball more and more, with the Warriors as the standard-bearers of the movement. Last season, their lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green outscored opponents by 47.0 points per 100 possessions over 172 regular-season minutes.
Golden State brought in Durant to replace Barnes in that lineup, which is a massive upgrade to an already lethal group.
We may or may not see a Curry-Thompson-Durant-Iguodala-Green lineup Tuesday night, but it’s clear that the Warriors will play at a fast pace and move the ball quickly.
San Antonio went out and acquired big men Pau Gasol and David Lee during the offseason. Both have their strengths, but defensive agility and awareness are major weaknesses for both players. LaMarcus Aldridge and Dewayne Dedmon are the other two main rotation bigs, and neither are exactly track stars moving up and down the floor, though they are quicker than Gasol and Lee.
Can the Spurs Run the Warriors Off the Three-Point Line?
It’s a well-known fact that the Warriors rely heavily on three-point shooting to win. When they make a lot of shots from the outside, they usually win. When they don’t, they’re a lot more vulnerable.
In Golden State’s 88 wins last season (postseason included), they canned 13.7 three-pointers per contest. When the Warriors lost, that number dipped to 9.7. That difference of four three-pointers is 12 points, which is a pretty big deal in a league where most teams end the game scoring around 100 points.
In San Antonio’s only head-to-head win versus Golden State last season, it focused on getting the ball out of Curry’s and Thompson’s hands when they were on the perimeter. Those two combined to shoot 2-of-19 from the three-point arc, and it resulted in the Warriors’ season low of 79 points.
The Spurs will miss injured starting shooting guard Danny Green, who is recovering from a quad injury. His long 6’6” frame is key to the Spurs’ defense on the perimeter. A lot of the responsibility will fall on reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, but he can’t be in two places at once.
How Good Will The Warriors’ Ball Movement Be?
As great as the Warriors are individually, they’re at their best when the ball is hopping around the court and players are scoring off of setups from teammates. The team averaged 28.8 assists per game in wins last season, and just 23.3 assists per contest in losses.
Golden State seemed to be in sync during the preseason, but there will still be a transition period as the team adjusts to having Durant, a four-time scoring champion, on the team. They’ll need to have a nice flow to their offense and not succumb to certain players frequently going to isolations or post-ups.
San Antonio is a very disciplined defensive team, and they’ll stop teams from scoring a majority of the time if they like to go one-on-one.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs Golden State Warriors Betting Picks Predictions
Golden State seemed awfully devastating on offense during the preseason, whipping the ball around the court quickly and scoring plenty in transition. The absence of Danny Green’s defense and outside shooting threat will be a killer for San Antonio, which is a bit bigger but much slower than its opponent.
Here are this preview’s picks and betting predictions:
- The Warriors are favored by nine points with most of the American-friendly sportsbooks, and they are our pick to cover the spread, as a win by around 10 to 12 points seems likely. 5Dimes has the Warriors -9 @ -110, which should be your best bet. It is -115 with BetOnline while Bovada go -9.5pts @ -105.
- Golden State may win by a decent margin, but San Antonio will do its best to slow down the pace of the game, as it succeeded in doing throughout much of the season series. The average point total for the four games they played was 191.75. Even with a weaker Spurs defense, feel good about betting under 212.5pts with 5Dimes or BetOnline @ -110 betting odds.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.